The Best Five Dollars I’ve Ever Spent

Five dollars isn’t much, but for the price of a foot long sandwich I was able to purchase the very best thing I have ever seen in my entire life that costs five dollars. If you think I’m being over enthusiastic about my purchase, wait until the end of the article and ask yourself, “Was Dan being a tad hysterical?” If you answer yes, than you and I can’t be friends.

First some background: Five Below is a chain of stores that offer crap for about $5. It’s like a dollar store, but mildly less depressing. While hunting around the store for goofy presents for my cousin’s birthday, I saw a small box on a lower shelf that called to me and I forgot all about my cousin’s birthday. I picked up the box, blew the dust off it (gross, right?) and saw something that is best shown instead of written about:

Continue reading The Best Five Dollars I’ve Ever Spent

Parade Magazine Questions: Round 3

Parade Magazine keeps publishing the most amazing letters in their Personality Parade section. Once again, I take a crack at answering these insightful queries.

A: I just called my friend who works closely with the show and she said, “Wow! That’s a much better idea. We were just going to make it into a zany version of Monopoly. But movies? Hmm…you might have something there.” Thanks for the suggestion, Lee. Hollywood will be contacting you shortly to go over specifics.

A: Sadly, the status of this project remains a mystery and we must blindly turn on the TV every morning with fingers crossed, hoping today Elizabeth Berkley will let us into her life.

A: The movie was released three years ago. It was awesome. You didn’t see it? Oh man! You totally missed out! The special effects were amazing! It looked so real. Morgan Freeman smashed it out of the park with this one, friend. So good! And everyone in the theater got free iPods and Target Gift Cards. And then these hot girls were in the theater and they were, like, full on making out!!! And then they looked to everyone in the theater and asked, “Wanna join in?” It was intense! And then this guy who worked at the zoo came and let us all feed a turtle!!!

I can’t believe you missed it! By the way, wasn’t The Dark Knight Rises phenomenal?!

A: I give up. Why? [Dan waits for punch line]

Writing Lesson #4: Outlining Your Novel

Writing a novel is tough work, but an outline can help you stay focused. Before getting flustered with dialogue and plot, it’s important to create a basic roadmap for the story. I don’t have all the pieces figure out for my new novel “Night Place” but I spent most of the week coming up with the following outline of what I want to accomplish with each chapter. Here is the only way you should ever outline a novel. (Spoiler alerts galore!)

See the exciting conclusion after the jump.

Continue reading Writing Lesson #4: Outlining Your Novel

I’m Off to See the Wizard

While I was writing about Twilight each week for SparkNotes, three questions kept coming my way from readers:

1. What will you write about after Twilight?
2. Will you write about Harry Potter?
3. If fire isn’t a gas, solid, or liquid does that mean it doesn’t exist?

To answer all three questions, Blogging Harry Potter has begun! (Fine, I can’t answer the third question. Shut up!)

When I started Blogging Twilight, I never thought it would become as popular as it did. Every time I add a new Facebook friend or receive a note from a fan, I blush. It’s wonderful. But it also means I felt pressured to make Blogging Harry Potter just as good.

The problem: I don’t even know what I did that made Blogging Twilight good. I’m like the kid who plays a fighting game, smashes a bunch of buttons and then some fantastic colorful maneuver happens on the screen. You ask the kid, “How did you do that,” and he just stares at you, shrugs, and asks how you got inside his house.

I stared at the blank screen for a few hours not even sure how to begin. Making fun of the books, as I did with Twilight, won’t work because let’s face it, Harry Potter is pretty great. And yet no one would want to read me saying, “This book is soooo goooood!” every week for a year. Finding the right tone is important.

Finally, I decided I was over thinking this, took a deep breath, and just began writing. I’m happy with the result, and something tells me that the articles will get better and I’ll have more fun as I read through the books.

And so I’m here to announce Blogging Harry Potter is up and running. I hope you like it. If you don’t, then you can look forward to my next assignment: Blogging the Alphabet. (I have some rather pointed remarks to make regarding the slutty letter H.)

Parade Magazine Questions: Round 2

Each week I offer up my own answers to the awe-inspiring questions sent into Parade Magazine’s Walter Scott. Here is this week’s roundup:

A: Good God no! Who told you that?! Who told you that horrible, filthy lie? Sorry for yelling. You didn’t do anything wrong. It must have been scary when someone told you that stuff about Mr. Williams, huh? Well it’s not true and you were right to come to Parade Magazine. You can talk to us about anything. You know that, right? And if Parade Magazine isn’t around, you can always ask a police officer or principal. Now let’s go get milkshakes.

A: While I’m on hold with Hollywood, let me take a few minutes to remind you that America is at war with two (or three) countries right now, tragedy is running rampant around the globe, we’re currently in the midst of The Great Depression II, and the world is running out of bees. But using your one question to inquire about the Twilight house is a good use of…wait…hold on.

[Dan listens to the phone]

Hollywood says the exterior shots are of a real house, but the interiors were built on a soundstage. They also wanted me to remind you that the Smurfs movie is coming out this summer and they ended the call by screaming, “Smurf’s up!”

A: Really, Diane? I can detect the seething sarcasm in your question. Stop being such a bitch. Bonnie doesn’t deserve that.